KENYA – Amref Health Africa Group CEO Dr. Githinji Gitahi has been appointed commissioner of the Africa Covid-19 Response Commission by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The announcement comes after the appointment of Ramaphosa as the African Union Champion on Covid-19 by the African Union Bureau of Assembly of Heads of State and Government (AU Bureau) at the 34th Ordinary Session of the AU held on 6th February 2021.

Speaking after his appointment, Dr. Gitahi said the surges of Covid-19 in various Africa countries continue to be a growing concern, particularly for health systems that are being pushed to a breaking point as well as for Africa’s social and economic health and recovery.

In many of these African countries, oxygen is running out, hospital beds are full and there are no vaccines available for those who need them most. In addition to the disease burden, communities have suffered a great social and economic burden, especially born by women, girls and children, he continues.

“A lot needs to be done to mitigate the outcomes for the health and well-being of Africans during these uncertain, and unprecedented times, and I’m confident that the commission under the leadership of H.E Cyril Ramaphosa will be a great addition to the continuing laudable response on COVID-19 in the continent witnessed since the first case in Africa,” said Dr Gitahi.

While speaking at the G7 summit, Dr. Githinji said Africa’s current vaccine supply shortage risks prolonging the pandemic, not just for millions on the continent, but for the whole world.

He applauded the G7’s decision to partner with COVAX to share COVID-19 vaccine doses to those most in need, urging these nations to act quickly by sharing vaccine resources as soon as possible, not toward the end of 2021, as the need for them now is greatest.

President Ramaphosa will chair the Covid-19 response commission and will be deputized by the Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Infection (Africa CDC), Dr John Nkengasong.

Dr Gitahi and his fellow commissioners will support the President in guiding the continental response to Covid-19.

The commission’s mandate is to identify gaps in the continental Covid-19 response strategy and propose evidence-based interventions.

They will also generate evidence to assess the impact of COVID-19 on social and economic harm on the continent and propose ways to a strong recovery.